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What colors do you mix to get forest green?

What colors do you mix to get forest green?

Forest green is a rich, verdant shade that evokes the lush foliage of a dense forest. It’s a popular color for paints, fabrics, and other decorative applications. But how exactly do you mix up this iconic green tone? The specific combination of colors needed to produce forest green depends on the type of paints, inks, or other media being used. However, in general, forest green is created by blending blue and yellow pigments together.

The Color Theory Behind Forest Green

On the traditional RYB (red, yellow, blue) color wheel used by artists, green sits opposite red. Secondary colors like green are made by mixing the two primary colors on either side. For green, this means mixing blue and yellow. When creating forest green specifically, more blue pigment needs to be used than yellow.

The higher proportion of blue creates a deeper, darker green. Adding too much yellow would start to shift the color toward chartreuse or lime green. The right balance of mostly blue with some yellow produces the rich emerald green shade that brings leafy woodlands to mind.

In technical terms, forest green is considered a “yellow-shifted” blue-green. It falls between the primary colors of blue and yellow rather than balancing equally between them. Understanding these fundamentals of color theory helps explain why blue and yellow are integral to mixing up forest green across any medium.

Mixing Forest Green Paint

For paints, mixing forest green is as simple as combining blue and yellow paints together. The specific blue and yellow hues used impact the end result. Here are some color combinations that work well:

  • Phthalo or Prussian blue + Yellow oxide
  • Ultramarine blue + Cadmium yellow
  • Cerulean blue + Lemon yellow

Phthalo and Prussian blue have deeper green-blue undertones. Pairing them with the warmer yellow oxide makes for an especially lush forest green. Ultramarine blue is slightly redder and lighter than Phthalo blue. Offsetting it with pure cadmium yellow produces a bright, vibrant forest green.

Cerulean blue has more green notes than ultramarine. With the pale lemon yellow, it creates a soft, seafoam-like forest green. Experiment with mixing different blue and yellow paints to find your perfect forest green hue.

Using Digital Design Color Models

For digital design, forest green colors are defined using RGB or CMYK values. In RGB (red, green, blue), forest green has higher blue than green values. In CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black), it has higher cyan and yellow components. Some common digital forest greens include:

Color Model Values
RGB 34, 139, 34
Hexadecimal #228B22
CMYK 76, 0, 76, 45

These colors can be used in graphic design software, web design, and other digital media. The colors can also be matched to physical paints using conversion charts.

Mixing Forest Green Dyes

For dyeing fabric or other materials green, fiber reactive dyes offer vibrant, long-lasting color. Some good dye combinations for forest green are:

  • Phthalo blue + Lemon yellow
  • Teal + Golden yellow
  • Turquoise + Yellow

The Phthalo blue and lemon yellow combination mirrors the paint blending. Teal and turquoise have blue-green tones that work well paired with a golden or primary yellow. Mixing dyes takes some experimentation to find the right balance.

Start with more blue or blue-green dye and add small amounts of yellow until reaching the ideal forest green. The dye bath should appear darker than the desired finished color. Test swatches first to perfect the mixture before dyeing a whole fabric length.

Natural and Synthetic Pigments for Forest Green

Whether using paints, dyes, or other colorants, the source pigments that create forest green can be natural or synthetic:

  • Natural blue pigments: Indigo, woad
  • Synthetic blue pigments: Phthalo blue, Prussian blue
  • Natural yellow pigments: Weld, turmeric, saffron
  • Synthetic yellow pigments: Cadmium yellow, lemon yellow

Many traditional plant dyes can produce forest green. Indigo and weld give a traditional blue-yellow pairing. Turmeric or saffron have been combined with indigo to dye fabrics green for centuries. Modern synthetic pigments offer brighter, longer-lasting forest green though.

Mixing Green Food Coloring

For coloring icings, beverages, and other foods green, liquid food coloring provides the easiest route. A few drops of blue and yellow food color can be combined in icing, gelatin, or liquids. however, it takes a very concentrated amount to get a true forest green.

For a more natural option, extract or juice can be substituted for the synthetic dyes. Blend chlorophyll-rich blue spirulina powder with a touch of turmeric for homemade green food coloring. Juices from blueberries, red cabbage, and avocado can also be combined with lemon juice or saffron for natural forest green food dye.

Mixing Green Lipstick and Cosmetics

Forest green is a trending color for makeup looks. Just like with paints and dyes, blending blue and yellow pigments makes green cosmetic hues. Common blue and yellow mineral pigments used in natural makeup include:

  • Chromium oxide greens (blue)
  • Iron oxides like yellow ochre (yellow)

Chromium oxide is a vivid greenish blue. Yellow ochre has an earthy hue. Together they produce a rich forest green. Other blue and yellow mineral pigments can be experimented with too. Matte green eye shadows, liners, and lipsticks can all be made by mixing complementary pigments.

Lightening and Darkening Forest Green

Once the base forest green color is mixed, there are a few options for lightening or darkening it:

  • Add white or black paint/ink to lighten or darken
  • Increase blue pigment to make darker
  • Increase yellow pigment to make lighter
  • Add complementary color like red or purple to gray or mute

With paints and inks, adding white will lighten the forest green into a minty shade. Black will take it to a deep hunter green. With dyes and cosmetics, simply varying the blue and yellow proportions shifts the tone. Complementary colors can mute or neutralize the forest green.


Forest green ultimately comes from mixing blue and yellow pigments. The specific combination needed depends on the media used. Traditional plant dyes, modern synthetic colors, and food ingredients can all produce the characteristic rich, verdant forest green. Understanding color theory helps guide what primary colors to blend. Experimentation fine tunes the blue-yellow balance for the perfect forest green.